Child Custody Law

Family law issues are almost always stressful, and when children are involved, it can be easy to let raw emotions take over. That’s why you should have the best child custody lawyer by your side. An experienced child custody attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the Family Court system, and will be your strongest advocate. 

The Child Custody Process in New York

Child Custody Lawyer

When a married couple with children divorces, one of the biggest decisions that needs to be made is how the children are cared for and supported financially, as well as how much time they get to spend with each parent. New York child custody laws can be vague, without many set rules to determine who gets custody of the child. Instead, it is up to the judge to evaluate the case and determine the safest and most effective result for the child. 

In some instances, the couple will have a postnuptial agreement or parenting plan in place, detailing their mutually agreeable arrangement for the children going forward. In these cases, the judge still has the final say, but the agreement will factor heavily into the final judgment. In the end, most judges aim to resolve custody cases with as little conflict as possible.

Unfortunately, some child custody cases are much more challenging and the parents are unable to come to an agreement. Under those circumstances, the Judge may issue a temporary custody order until after a trial. Both sides will present evidence and witnesses to support their cases, following which the temporary custody order will be vacated, and the Judge will issue a final order.

How does the court decide on child custody arrangements?

There are many factors that the court will take into consideration, including:

  • Each parent’s existing relationship with the child;
  • The ability of each parent to serve as a caregiver;
  • The parents’ relationship with each other;
  • Mental and physical health of each parent;
  • Work schedules;
  • Any history of substance abuse by either parent; and perhaps most importantly,
  • Any history of abuse by either parent

Depending on the age of the child, the Judge may also take the child’s preference into account.

Physical Custody

The final custody agreement is highly dependent on the specific circumstances of each family. In New York, the courts rule on physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines where the child will live and will be awarded as either joint physical custody or sole physical custody. If joint physical custody is awarded, then the child will split time between both parents. The exact arrangement will depend on where each parent’s home is in proximity to the child’s school, each parent’s work schedule, and any other relevant factors. 

If the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, then that parent is referred to as the “custodial parent.” The “non-custodial” parent may still have court-approved visitation rights, but the child will live with the custodial parent. For situations in which one parent travels extensively for work or the safety of the child is in question, sole physical custody may be the best option.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to each parent’s ability to make decisions on behalf of the child in regards to matters such as medical care, school choice, religious upbringing, and more. The decision is made in the best interests of the child, so the judge may award joint legal custody or sole legal custody, depending on the individual family’s circumstances.

It is not unusual for the custody order to include joint legal custody and sole physical custody. For instance, in the example above regarding a parent who frequently travels for work, it may make sense to award physical custody to the non-traveling parent. However, if the court feels that both parents are competent to make legal decisions and should have equal footing in regards to major life choices, then joint legal custody may be awarded. Likewise, it is also common for one parent to get both sole physical and legal custody if the other parent has a history of substance abuse.

Choosing the Best Child Custody Lawyer

Child Custody Lawyer

When choosing a family custody lawyer, it is important to select one who will take the time to ensure you understand all of the details involved. When you choose David Carr & Associates, a member of the firm will be by your side throughout the entire child custody case, from start to finish. As parents, we understand how overwhelming it can feel when the well-being of your child is threatened, which is why we take special care to walk you through every step of the child custody process.

Child Custody Mediation

In an effort to create a plan that works for the entire family, some couples choose to work with a mediator. We offer mediation services that provide you with a neutral third party to help you and your spouse come to an agreement. While your child custody case will still need to go through Family Court, having an agreement set ahead of time may make the process easier on your family.

Another resource that may be tapped during a child custody battle is a child custody 730 evaluator.

These are independent legal professionals who will assess your situation and present their findings in court. Having a 730 evaluator involved in your court case may be helpful when it comes to determining a positive outcome for your child and your family as a whole.

At David Carr & Associates, we provide expert legal guidance in all areas of family law. We are the child custody lawyer Buffalo, NY residents and NYC residents rely to make the process easier. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about our family law services.

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